Pro­duc­ing con­tent on the Web since 1995.


some say­ings of ר‘משבצונה“ל

For many years I have worked hard, and strug­gled with mas­ter­ing virtuous. Now, in addi­tion, I’m work­ing on becom­ing more virtual.
This is an expres­sion of that effort.
* * * * * * *

השיבנו ה‘ אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו
כעוד לא היו
* * * * * * *
ומביא גאלה…
לצאצאיהם

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All pho­tographs are by Mark Hurvitz unless they are obvi­ously not (or credit oth­er­wise is given).

The pho­tos in the ban­ner at the top (only a shal­low sliver of a much larger photo) are either from our home or our trav­els and are offered for their beauty alone (though a brain-teaser for me: “Where was that?”).

why break the middle one?

why do we break the mid­dle matzah?

An eight year old asked me the other day why we break the mid­dle Matzah for the Afikoman.

I searched in a dozen Hag­gadot and other sources, (includ­ing aca­d­e­mic ones, e.g. Bokser’s “Ori­gins of the Seder”) and I can find noth­ing. I am famil­iar with the inter­pre­ta­tion of the three mat­zot as sym­bolic of the Cohanim, Levites and Israel. I also know of an expla­na­tion for why we eat the smaller por­tion. But these tell me noth­ing about why we break the mid­dle Matzah.

Does any­one know of an expla­na­tion and a source?

Here’s what I have in my Hag­gadah:


Of the three Mat­zot on the Seder table, break the mid­dle one in two. Leave the smaller piece. Wrap the larger in a nap­kin to be hid­den at some time dur­ing the evening, before dessert is served. This piece of Matzah is now called the “afiko­man.” It must be found and reunited with the other Mat­zot (and eaten) right after din­ner, or the Seder can­not proceed.

These three Mat­zot are cer­tainly not enough to feed us all tonight. What could they symbolize?

Our sages offer a vari­ety of expla­na­tions. Among these, they sug­gest that the Mat­zot rep­re­sent the three ancient branches of the Jew­ish peo­ple: Cohen, Levite and Israelite. They can also rep­re­sent our thoughts, our speech and our action. While our thoughts and actions remain whole, our speech (like that of Moses) is often broken.

Our words form the tran­si­tion from our thoughts to our actions. We should con­sider them well, make them hon­est and con­sis­tent so that they lead to proper action.
We have just bro­ken the mid­dle Matzah and will hide the afiko­man, the larger half of it, to share later, as our ances­tors shared the Passover offer­ing itself at this ser­vice thou­sands of years ago in Jerusalem.

  • More lies ahead than what has passed;

  • more is hid­den than revealed.
  • True wis­dom is often deep and hid­den;
  • attained by the modest.
  • Those whose dreams exceed their actions are still young.

No one knows for cer­tain what the word afiko­man means. A com­mon tra­di­tion says it comes from the Greek word for dessert.

Another sug­gests that it rep­re­sents the mes­siah. Sep­a­rated from the Jew­ish peo­ple, the mes­siah will, dur­ing the course of our tikkun olam—our ongo­ing strug­gle to per­fect the world—(symbolized and re-initiated by this Seder), be reunited with our peo­ple. Today, we begin that process. As we real­ize how lit­tle we truly know, we can break from the mold of habit to accept the respon­si­bil­ity of ful­fill­ing our com­mit­ments. We work for that time of per­fec­tion: the Mes­sianic Era.

Now many Jews remain bro­ken off from our peo­ple. Some con­tinue this way of their own choice here in West­ern coun­tries. Oth­ers remain forcibly estranged in other parts of our world. We work for a time when our peo­ple will be reunited. When this hap­pens we know that all will be free.